By Clarence Fanto

LENOX – Charities, big or small, that depend on the generosity of donors, are afraid of the consequences of President Trump's tax reform law.

Instead of detailing the deductions, including contributions to non-profit organizations, about 90% of taxpayers will claim the standard deduction, which almost doubled to $ 12,000 for an individual (up from $ 6,350 in the previous year) and $ 24,000 for a couple filing a joint declaration (against $ 13,000). ).

This means that for people wholly or partially motivated by the benefits of claiming tax deductions, the incentive to make end-2018 charitable donations has been less.

The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that the new tax law will reduce the number of households claiming a detailed deduction for their charitable donations from about $ 37 million to about $ 16 million for tax returns by April 15, according to a CNBC report.

For-profit organizations that rely on modest donations are the hardest hit, while organizations that address higher-income contributors may adopt the strategy of avoiding capital gains taxes. the profits from investments by donating shares or other assets such as works of art more valuable than when they were purchased.

Even before the coming into force of the new tax law, household donations had declined by more than 11% over the last 15 years, which implied greater dependence on the large contributions of wealthy individuals, well funded businesses and foundations.

The total value of donations could decrease by 5% this year, USA Today recently reported. The Giving USA data bank reports a total of $ 410 billion in nonprofit donations last year, but could drop to $ 390 billion.

With deadlock on Capitol Hill putting an end to the most significant legislation, recent proposals allowing tax filers to deduct donations for charities and other non-profit organizations are unlikely, even if they do not detail their statements.

The TaxExemptWorld website shows that Berkshire County has 1,702 non-profit organizations, with total assets of nearly $ 6.9 million and $ 2.2 million in revenue for the last year of reporting of income. The AZ list, updated two months ago, is great. It goes from 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance (figures come first) to Zonta International. If you download the file, you can view the resources of all organizations, based on non-profit IRS tax returns and other sources.

The county is heavily dependent on charities because the IRS ranks all organizations claiming nonprofit status, which may explain why many of us have encountered boxes at the charities. Traditional and electronic letters flooded with calls for donations last month.

Some people give priority to homeless shelter contributions, larders and many other organizations that help the thousands of less fortunate individuals and families among us. Others choose arts organizations, public radio or television stations, churches, synagogues, scholarship funds – the choices are endless and difficult.

Visitors to Berkshire County, particularly those in metropolitan areas such as New York and Boston, often think that this region is much more prosperous than it is. The reality is that the median income of families or households in the county, at $ 55,190, is well below the national and national levels, except in a few small towns like Alford, Richmond, Washington and Tyringham, according to a report from the Census Bureau. American analyzed in The Eagle of Jan 1.

In 22 of 32 cities in Berkshire County, median household income was below the state median of $ 74,167. North Adams, Pittsfield and Adams are at the bottom of the list, but Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Monterey and Dalton were surprisingly low in the ranking of Berkshire's 32 communities.

Pockets of poverty surround us, some well hidden along rural roads, others visible in our two cities and the largest.

So, while it is tempting to feel frustrated by the seemingly constant quest for documents, the challenge we face is knowing how to support the charities that benefit the less fortunate residents, or the pillars of information and culture like WAMC Northeast Public Radio, New England Public. Radio (WFCR), BSO, Jacob's Pillow, our outstanding theater companies and our world-renowned museums.

For those who can afford it, it is relatively easy to make a check or provide a credit or debit card number, with or without a tax deduction.

But the people I know who collect provisions for the pantry, come in to help feed, clothe and shelter the poor and help out our immigrant families can be the true Good Samaritans because they do not take away any personal benefit or reward beyond awareness We made a difference that can be ignored by a list of donors or a live acknowledgment, but much more meaningful.

After all, as Merriam Webster tells us, the first definition of charity is obvious but too easily forgotten: generosity and benevolence, especially towards the needy or the suffering, as well as the help given to those in need. the need.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@Good Non profit. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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